The agency’s chief suggested that Russia’s Mars probe Phobos-Grunt failures may be result of foul play, as well as a string of other embarrassing setbacks that plagued the country’s space agency last year. The 14.5-ton Phobos-Grunt spacecraft got stuck in Earth orbit shortly after its November 8 launch, and Russian officials predict it will crash back into the atmosphere on January 15. Vladimir Popovkin, chief of Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) told Russia’s Izvestia newspaper, according to Agence-France Presse, that it is unclear why their setbacks often occur when the vessels are travelling through what for Russia is the ‘dark’ side of the Earth, in areas where we do not see the craft and do not receive its telemetry readings.
Also he added that he don’t want to blame anyone, but today there are some very powerful countermeasures that can be used against spacecraft whose use cannot exclude. Russian engineers still don’t know why Phobos-Grunt‘s main engines failed to fire as planned to send the probe on its way toward Mars. But he admitted that the mission was risky to begin with, since it was underfunded and relied on old Soviet-era designs. Phobos-Grunt was one of five high-profile failures for the Russian space program in 2011.